22 June, 19:00

A purely feminine collection: fans from the Victoria and Albert Museum

A purely feminine collection: fans from the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is famous for its outstanding collection of decorative arts. For example, the collection of fans brought to Europe from the East in the 17th century became not only fashion items, but also works of art, reflecting the sophistication and skill of their creators.

The first fans reached Europe thanks to trade with Asia. They quickly gained popularity among the European nobility as a symbol of luxury and status. European craftsmen began to make their own fans using silk, leather and parchment. Mother-of-pearl, paintings or engravings were used for decoration. Fans with mirrors in the middle were in fashion for some time.
In the Rococo era, the fan turned into an elegant toy, a tool of flirtation and sophisticated female coquetry. In addition, it became available to representatives of the bourgeoisie. However, the ability to use a fan correctly was still reserved only for aristocratic women.

With the emergence of fashion for Chinese porcelain, fans began to be painted with scenes from the lives of Chinese rulers and their courtiers. Very expensive imported fans from China were extremely popular.
In the 19th century, "fan language" lost its meaning, but it was still considered a favorite female accessory. It was in the 19th century that fans began to be made not only from traditional materials, but also from ostrich feathers.

Among the exhibits of the museum are fans that belonged to famous women of the first half of the 20th century. For example, the fan of the British actress Ethel Griffis, which impresses with its beauty and skill of performance. The collection also features fans held by famous actresses Olga Lindo, Julia Nelson and Marie Laure. These women were the stars of their day and their fans were used as part of theatrical costumes.
The collection of fans at the Victoria and Albert Museum are witnesses to history, reflecting the taste and style of their owners, and remain enduring symbols of beauty and artistry.

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